Guth An Anam

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    Guth An Anam

    Guth An Anam (Voice of the soul)
    Aine Mac Aodha
     
     

    “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” – Bobby Sands
    “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
    Oscar Wilde
    “I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because
    you tread on my dreams” W.B.yeats

     
     
    Guth An Anam (Voice of the soul)
    I carried you; or we carried each other
    over ancient sites and thorny bushes
    to recall your forgotten voice
    lost through the layers of time.
    I carried you to Yeats County; with views
    of soothing Benbulben Mountain and you
    sang such beautiful tunes.
    You sang out too when I located the
    weather worn court tomb at Creevykeel.
    An ancient connection was made.
    When birds left the trees for sunnier climbs
    as winter caped above the house you were with me.
    You gave me music to open my soul
    again to the beauty in the landscape.
    Music; you are the voice of my soul.
    Aisling
    Often in the music of the wind
    in some stony place recalled to mind
    neglected tombs that now are seldom traced
    hold celtic knots and swirls upon its face.
    Knockmany passage tomb in all its presence
    instills in me the beauty of the ancients
    whose skill and art have traveled land and sea
    to keep our spirit in its company.
    I stand against this tomb of Carleton’s valley
    surrounded by the mountains, bog and beauty.
    united we sing songs towards the wind
    delighted at my growth of soul within.
    Leaving now this tomb of pagan origin;
    heightened thoughts renewed in earthy vision.
    The mindful song than sings along the breeze
    is forever placed within my memories.
    Note: Aisling – vision (Gaelic)
    Muscailt
    Awakened, made it through
    the veils of pitch,
    threaded with wars, flags and
    tribal intolerance; fixed
    on the horizons of my mind.
    In dreams the inland rivers claw
    like hunger towards the Atlantic coast
    gathering with it clotted memories,
    of a torturous past in every blast;
    rousing the shadows of Irelands ghosts.
    Tuatha de Danaan, the pilgrims,
    the famine and her coffin ships,
    the uprisings, internment, the troubles,
    the hunger strikes, sons, daughters……
    Muscailt (“The Awakening” in Irish)
    A Prayer to the Integrity of Words
    Bless the verbs and nouns that
    carry rivers of verse in their hour of need.
    Bless their totality of wisdom
    greeting morality with novels amassed,
    usage, bringing yet; tribal flouncing and
    indecent drifting.
    Without the integrity of words
    our clans may never meet or greet,
    for many ensembles would slither un-heard.
    Night Aria
    Sounds of closing time ring out from the garage floor court
    the dog groans in her sleep at the distant sound of tyres
    spinning wildly in circles on the tar. Someone’s idea of fun.
    Reading late into the night the air gets colder just before dawn.
    In the company of birdsong; they care not for time on a clock
    out do each other in a frenzy of thrills, defending territories.
    They seem to snooze very little as night blends into day yet
    songs of the scolding black bird in the undergrowth
    sends me over the mountain to sleep; eventually.
    All for love
    You said you never cared for walking over boggy hills
    over rusty styles with bulls on the other side
    only to find a crumbling stone etched in lines
    you do it out of love.
    Watching in bewilderment as I spy a lone ogham stone
    in the centre of a field in Mountfield in the middle
    of nowhere and my spirit lifts at the sight of it.
    My mind gets to work on the stories this stone carries in its aura.
    My camera clicks many times.
    You do this out of love you say; like I do
    when the wilderness calls and I succumb to it’s voice
    Draiocht
    Magic happens in the cool waters of healing wells
    making the journey under clay; to offer up
    cures within its life force.
    I’ve seen it as winter blends its end of days
    into the arrival of spring. On mountains
    and boundaried fields as morning mist
    vanishes.
    Within myself when i forget the world a while
    do nothing except listen to the order of things
    or stare into space.
    Within the lunar cycles when moon phases
    stir the spirit in an ancient way; as it passes
    on its journey.
    Its there too on the faces of new born babies;
    reddened from the delicate path taken
    from womb to world, dark to light.
    Chicago
    Lake Michigan seemed to spread out
    like another Atlantic before me
    the river a hem; traced along the tall buildings.
    At night from Sears Tower; we saw the city lights;
    grids like lay lines as far as the eye could see.
    It was the year the cicadas appeared
    the drumming deafening.
    I preferred the cicadas to the noise
    in the North of Ireland then.
    They come with their love chorus
    every thirteen years.
    When the fireflies got a look in;
    how beautiful they were, their bursts of light
    reminded me of the fires on the hills at Beltane;
    or all hallows eve.
    I thought that paganism was the way to go;
    the on/off ceasefires seemed to run tally
    with the mixed marriage that ended a war within a war.
    In my mind again I’m sitting on the warm wooden step
    outside the new home in Chicago.
    The night sky bleeds constantly from
    the low flying planes of O’Hare as they routinely pass,
    you joked that you saw your mothers purple rinse
    at the crafts window waving the union jack
    and me Da the Tri-colour.
    Ireland and the north lingered still;
    on my clothes, hearts and brogue;
    there was a drive-by-shooting in the area
    we hadn’t a clue as to why; but learned later
    it was to do with bandanas and their colours.
    It comes down to colours and flags in the end I thought.
    Our outer landscapes may have changed
    our place of birth; of memory remained.
    “Cicadas are insects belonging to the family Cicadidae in the order Hemiptera*. Cicadas are
    recognizable by their large size (>1 inch) and clear wings held rooflike over the abdomen. Their
    life cycles are long, usually involving multiple years spent underground as juveniles, followed by a
    brief (roughly 2-6 weeks) adult life above ground.. As adults, males produce a loud song using
    specialized sound tymbals. These sounds are among the loudest produced by any insects roots”
    Island Home
    I’ve traveled very little from this island home.
    My native land grounds me keeps me in contact
    with the rhythms of nature, the sound of the winds,
    the call of the wild birds and the dialects of its people.
    Tyrone’s inland landscape of moss clad hills and flat bogs
    break every now and then like an ocean wave.
    Small towns and villages emerge lively and loud
    against the woven landscape
    One can drive for miles across back roads criss-crossing
    town lands whose names mean; stony path,
    fairly coloured field or hill of midges; before
    a village appears out of the hedgerows.
    Fintona, Seskinore, over the mountain to
    Fivemiletown. across the side road to Sixmilecross,
    Carrickmore, Gortin and to Omagh again, the view
    always lifts the spirit.
    Gortin village is one such place, hidden within
    the protective fauna of the forest and rough mossy
    hills flanking the road into the village.
    Fiddle music sails up from the music store.
    Cont’
    I may not have traveled far; but this island
    Home; were the ancestors have left their marks on the land;
    in the form of art and awkward names,
    This will take me far away in my mind at times.
    Love Diminishes
    She watches their love die quietly.
    No storms or rough waters to master
    no acid looks or misfired cups
    but silently as bud in spring.
    The house they built on with love and hope
    a library of snapshots charting the years
    spent loving, laughing, raring the brood.
    Each picture a story, each flake of paint
    an unsaid feeling; left dormant.
    Wallpaper fades behind the silent gloss.
    She watched their love die quietly among the
    layer of years tending room by room
    in fancy décor, empty now of the children.
    All she can do is watch their love diminish.
    dried fruits
    on the bird table –
    bees hum
    soft raindrops –
    spring sings her lullaby
    heartbeat on paving stones
    Memories
    I hear her voice
    in the minds eye
    as I re-pot the Geraniums.
    “Keep them by the window
    they’ll get more light
    and water sparingly in winter”
    It’s funny how a flower or
    the faint smell of something
    familiar ignites a memory.
    Like a song even, that escapes
    at the right time from a car radio
    just as you pass,
    can stop you in your tracks, combing
    back a time of instant love, perhaps
    a first love that had vanished.
    Messages are found all around us
    if only we’d take the time to listen
    Our lives so busy.
    Learning to be still is a skill, quiet the mind
    once in a while, the messages will come;
    from the most unlikely places.
    Closing of Day
    Reminders of winter brush their wings against me.
    The sky lavender as day passes on this world of mine
    The last of the light dissolving into careless shadows
    that play foolish games on the eye.
    Moon is missing and stars fret her return to fullness.
    Closing times ring out in the faint frost
    carrying voice tones up into the air.
    Pockets of youths gather at the garage shop
    each singing their own song; each dressed for battle.
    Mr Clark totters past the gate breathing heavy;
    the hound in tow-showing him the way;
    the usual way; no free run of things.
    He catches my presence and waves; hand above head,
    filled with thought he continues.
    A car hurling like thunder on the road below
    does its best to do the ton, screaming almost
    like a banshee.
    I watch as a spider parachutes her web, it’s her time to work
    and the moths time to be on the lookout.
    I close the door to the wintry night.
    Seekers of truth
    Truths like crystals lie buried under earth
    under ancient oaks and long forgotten pathways
    leading to the ocean.
    In the songs of yesterday adrift on the spring mist
    as I gaze out over the hills.
    In layers of prayers petitioned to sky that soar
    to the universal spirit.
    In cosmic shifts, of the soul’s migration; from before birth
    to beyond the end of life.
    We seek it in books; in passing thoughts that nudge us
    towards a face in the crowd.
    In the faces of the old.
    With others on the journey, embraced, entwined
    truth emerges out of the dark returning as the light
    within.
    Starlings –
    under the roof space
    claws on wood
    spring cleaning.
    rose petals floating –
    small puddles reflect summer
    in sun drenched pools.
    flowerless Hawthorn
    bending against the winds path
    farewell to litha.
    Mind Maps
    The county swirls evermore into winter.
    Evenings; old blanket grey smears the sky.
    Lightening threaten its Amethysts strike
    across the small market town.
    Driving along the back roads to Fintona
    Omagh dissolves in the mist blown off the fields.
    A tin shed orange with rust appears out of
    the darkness. Fog; like ghosts; suddenly appear.
    Trees along the curling roads make tunnels
    before my eyes. Empty of cars i turn the lights off
    for a second. The scuttle of a hare startles me it
    stops for a look before scampering to the hedge.
    On the ten mile drive i meet no other drivers.
    These roads are the sneaky back roads over
    hills and through forested glades.
    Never found on road maps; but mapped on the mind.
    Returning to stony ground.
    I drove to the Stone circles at Beagmore
    an instinctual journey and need.
    The alignment slightly mossed over
    blown off the hills and boggy land.
    Passing the five sisters kettle holes
    reminded me of the many who died when
    their car drove off road into the bog at night,
    no lamp-posts on those roads then.
    These stone meant something to someone
    a calling to the tribes.
    Empty now of people apart from the odd person
    who climbed briers and stiles, without much help from signposts,
    just to enrich their soul, it’s that kind of place were the
    hustle and bustle of daily urban life vanishes for a while.
    A place that talks to you; not you to it.
    Takes you back to an ancient time.
    Disappearing world
    I can drive out of town
    and within minutes get lost
    amid the Tyrone landscape.
    Often in search of some stony
    place I once new
    and find it gone.
    Replaced by a house with
    Sperrin Mountain views
    right on the doorstep.
    The news of Gold mining at the
    beauty spot, Pigeon Top saddens
    the heart and eyes.
    Huge scoops of earth carried away in
    ignorant lorries leaving dirt trails
    as far a s the eye can see.
    In daydreams I weep for the land.
    Now that peace has come
    prospectors want a piece.
    A haven in the mind
    This land has molded me
    has scolded me like my father
    in shades of grief unspoken;
    spiritually tethered to it’s acres.
    Divided from one another by boundaries
    walls, flags, street names and the
    isolation of tribal words.
    My thoughts often turn inwards.
    The landscape of the soul changes
    when i wander the Tyrone hills
    filling my soul with moss coloured
    songs; of how nature always finds a way.
    Seasons blend into one another without
    much argument; they have a spirit of
    their very own and follow it no matter what.
    a headgehog
    looking my way
    lost in grief
    out of nowhere
    a bee
    hungry for summer
    Remembering
    When the ould pair died
    the music, for a while
    went also.
    A worn fiddle hangs
    by the chunky accordion.
    Airs recalled,
    in snapshots of scenes
    fiddlers night on
    local radio.
    Clearings on the lino
    waltzing to the beat
    one, two, three…
    Under the watchful eye
    of Blessed Oliver Plunkett
    they glided.
    I feel again the music
    swell in me where
    winter visits often.
    Like rivers that flow
    to the cold Atlantic
    the journey long.
    I listen to the waves
    I hear them, the
    music of the ould pair.
    (the ould pair, A way of saying the parents)
    Hares,
    at twilight arrive ears dive sky ward
    alert to any and every noise as they steal
    into the summer garden.
    Larger than my childhood memory of them
    inching through the grass in some
    ancestral way.
    Their grace and beauty blend with the landscape.
    Every so often standing upright
    like a warrior of old.
    On Main Street
    In the stillness of early morning, maples on Main Street whisper.
    Signs of life move into the air. Milk vans shuttle door to door
    of side streets. Steam from the Carlton bakery; begin its snail’s ascent
    over the roof, warming the alleyway as it rises.
    The Strule River ripples over flat stones catching the lamp lights
    perched antiquely on Bells Bridge.
    Sheela Na Gigs or look a likes stare from the corners of the chapel
    walls made worse by the blinking glare of the festive decorations.
    On the footpath by Greasy Joe’s café; the remains of a curry chip
    decorates the way, the culprit long gone.
    There’s something special about this time of the morning when the
    town and its occupants begin to rouse.
    There’s order, there calm, before flushes of life begin again with the
    torrent of youth thundering forward like shoals of fish all heading for
    the school gates. The courthouse hill a mass of uniformed brown and
    blue.
    Our stories
    We carry them on our faces like some visible vail or invisible back
    pack that travels with us from pillar to post. Staving ahead; making
    room for a few more on the journey. We hold them in our souls.
    We lay them on the hearth of a friend or maybe someone we meet by
    chance and our energies swap them for us, without the need of words.
    They are carried on footsteps drifting along on the night breeze taking
    them further a field again.
    Like a mothers knee they warm us on nights of pouring rain that’s
    beating hard against the window pane.
    St Teresa’s primary school ‘69’
    Almost sheltered from the world
    by an umbrella of prayer.
    Smallish veiled nuns with lines
    mapped out on olive skin;
    wore over sized Crucifixes;
    pierced at heart level.
    Whispered prayers echoed
    through the boarded floors
    resonating in the old heaters.
    They taught of the starving babies
    in Africa; the droughts in India.
    Each girl handed a Trócaire box
    to take home. Every swear word
    uttered; a penny went into it;
    boxes were filled often
    without much argument from sinners.
    They taught a bit of everything;
    Needlework, cookery and historical facts
    about Henry the 8th and his many wives;
    but nothing of the 300.000 Irish sold
    to slavery in the new colonies of the West Indies
    and America’s, Nor of the fate
    of Ann Glover; sold to the planters;
    the first witch killed
    in the Massachusetts witch trials of 1688.
    Her native language
    confused as the devils tongue.
    I imagine she thought Cotton Mathers
    mad for thinking such a thing. Her a
    a mere washerwoman.
    The 60’s by-passed St. Teresa’s I think.
    Through the nuns we learnt the bibles history,
    the litanies, love for others; Respect.
    “You’d rarely see a nun dressed in habit these days”
    The Sperrin Mountains
    Take a dander over peat clad slopes
    Find the ancient past alive
    On the fringes of the Sperrins.
    Pigeon top, a silent view.
    Absorb, sponge like, the secrets
    of the mass rock were hooded priests
    pray in whispers.
    Beagmore stone circles retell
    hardships of bronze age man
    strong, creative
    protective of family clan.
    The Ogham stone of Greencastle
    notches ingrained, communicators
    of the barren landscape.
    Take a dander over the Sperrins
    sense the myths hidden in bedrock
    hear the echoes of the past re-claimed.
    Touched by madness
    In the first signs of spring
    the thawing frost
    the thawing wintered heart.
    When the words of a poem
    wrestles about in dreams
    lost in daylight hours.
    I’m touched by madness
    my madness, your madness.
    My friend madness
    that comes and goes
    as it pleases, wraps me
    in a shawl of bog cotton.
    The news at ten
    There was in our house a silence
    it banged in my eardrums
    followed me to bed under the watchful eye
    of Oliver Plunkett.
    Ears pressed tight on the hard feather pillow
    the eiderdown wrestled with coarse blankets.
    Silent drums paraded, fractured only by the ‘news at ten,’
    “Whist”
    ‘13 shot dead in Derry’
    Never much liked the news after that.
    Heirlooms
    If willow patterned plates could talk
    the stories they would hold
    given from mother to mother
    words ingrained on the soul.
    It would carry tears of an uprising
    from the home at Vinegar Hill
    ‘Basket women’ some called them
    mopping their men’s blood spill.
    They too became fighting women
    took all sorts to the men in the fields
    hidden in wicker baskets
    on the bars of their bicycle wheels.
    It sits with friends in the hallway
    the pattern now faded to grey
    almost a century; come Easter
    with a life time of tales to convey.
    under the moons light
    a hedgehog walks alone
    journeys end.
    Casting off.
    Getting beyond your land mass of hills, bog
    and the binding of a strict catholic upbringing
    takes some working.
    When mother poor of purse filled diligently
    the chapel envelopes for mass
    I rebelled.
    Shamefully I begrudged giving
    when wicker baskets were passed
    from row to row.
    The clink of coins set off a clink in me
    a change that has developed since
    and continues still.
    Mine is not a raging god who casts out revenge
    sending me to the fires of hell.
    I know that, feel it in my soul.
    Imbolc.
    Loitering out there somewhere in the heavy frosty air
    spring awaits. Among these familiar Tyrone hills
    fauna once coiled attempts to unfold in the morning
    mist.
    Underfoot in the dark rooms of the earth; a miracle
    is at work. Bulbs burst forth; ready to catch that light
    and spark of springs arrival. Life rumbles on unnoticed
    at first.
    Trees along the riverbank sing woeful songs about the noise
    of coughing cement mixers and lorries that cut trails into
    the valley; readied for tall shops and over priced flats.
    They sing at night in a low manner for the lost order of things;
    cows and sheep leaving for pastures new; hedge crawlers have
    all but disappeared from their view.
    A thousand years has passed its trunk, catching tales on the wind
    Secrets and shames of love and loss in childhood games.
    The mighty oak sing to the beat of re-generation.
    winters coat
    birds unable to furrow
    come close.
    against the window
    melting snow
    melting the moon
    May Eve.
    Beltaine on the lands
    hawthorn blossoms catch the wind
    air dressed in Mays’ coat
    swanning past the window pane.
    With simple fragrances blown,
    with it comes the butterfly.
    November Storm
    The wind tonight is merciless,
    tearing up the yard and throwing its
    damaged ego against the doors.
    Branches whip against the window pane,
    bin lids flap with dangerous jaws
    grabbing all that lands its way.
    Afraid to venture out for a sniff about
    the dog curls her back to it like a cat.
    We hear the leaves circulate at the door.
    Coal in the fire argues with the wind; hissing
    and spiting stubbornly; casting shadows on the wall
    like warriors or better still, angels.
    The wind tonight is merciless.
    Loretto convent primary
    Dress code was strict
    like the cataclysms repeated.
    Gabardine in navy blue;
    kimono, crisp white shirt, tie.
    White or black plimsoles
    a customary slipper bag.
    The nuns guarded the grounds
    like penguins on parade
    on the lookout for impudence.
    Our lady’s’ grotto, daisy chains
    Come mayday.
    Respect was a good thing.
    Mother Mona bent with age
    bore no warmth
    although welcomed us always.
    Married to god
    her happiness traced as
    lines on olive skin.
    Never liked a chatterbox
    more than once I had to hold
    my tongue at the blackboard;
    or stand for ages with arms out
    shoulder length, crucified, like Jesus.
    I think of Sister Joanne
    fresh faced, funny, light of
    heart.
    I couldn’t understand her calling then.
    The Magpie
    Two tone thieves gather like senators
    or tenors, slightly tipping as if heavy bellied.
    Green and purple smudged feathers glint
    as the sunlight catches them.
    They chatter on the trapeze of a fairy thorn.
    Ever vigilant, a salmons glance towards glinting
    treasures, presumed below in suburbs.
    They come, silent now, a pilots precision
    gliding towards the milk tops
    shining like fools gold on the door step,
    cute enough, they scan the house for noise,
    I stand; still as an Oak tree.
    Carefully they pluck the silver lid
    lap up the cream stash the lids in their beak
    and make off for the hill top again.
    Litha
    Longing for the coming solstice
    in celebration of the light
    the suns warming rays aid
    herb gathering in honor of mother earth
    and her fruitfulness.
    Snapshots
    Life now is consumed by words;
    snapshots of conversations
    lingerings of a dream recalled
    from many moons ago
    wandering in and out of mind;
    returning with flashes of insight.
    The note book I carry tells
    the tale of a woman possessed
    with knitting words into something.
    They carry me through the days
    the way others unearth weeds
    and rake the soil for new beds.
    I take these snippets on trips
    to the five sisters lakes or to
    Beagmore stone circles; hoping
    bronze age man might throw pearls my way.
    A walk through the town.
    The bells on the sacred heart chapel
    ring out the angelus in the faint frost.
    Brightly lit; the chapel dives skyward.
    Friday confessions, they somberly walk in.
    The world on their shoulders and within the
    hour emerge smiling again.
    Ready for the weekend; a clean slate, the sin-eater
    swallowed the badness and served it on a plate
    to old nick.
    The pavements glitter like reflected stars
    only it’s not stars, it’s John Street on a Saturday
    night and already the clubs filling up.
    Noises rise into the moonless night, Rock, club sounds
    traditional, Ambulances siren and loud shouting.
    A hen party arrives under the courthouse clock.
    Someone has already thrown up in Georges Street
    between the taxi office and the Chinese.
    Teens in spangley heels and boob tubes shiver,
    I want to wrap them in Mohair jumpers to keep warm.
    The Hillman Imp
    (a.k.a. The scottish hill-climber)
    ‘A devil of a wee car’ Da would brag.
    The embarrassment I’d think
    cube framed and as small as.
    It took us on weekend voyages
    crossing the border into Donegal
    coughing and percolating into Pettico,
    over rocky clumps, it wrestled the bendy roads .
    Killybegs meant fish forever
    poached, fried, boiled.
    Da, re-juvenated on the journey
    Ma delighted at glimpses of her flag.
    We took the long route home
    the air fused of trawlers, old holborn,
    whiskey chasers and sea weed.
    We stopped at intimate villages
    devoid of pound signs and iron fists.
    Native speakers greeted warmly in soft tones.
    ‘Where the sea met slate rock, we breathed salt air
    into fume filled lungs, returning inland more refreshed.’
    On the windy hill
    his shell lies in the modern graveyard
    devoid of flowers and over the top
    headstones. Another parochial rule
    even in death the papal orders are
    engraved in the soil.
    Although entombed there on that windy hill
    with views of Gortin Glens and the Sperrins
    in every direction; his spirit is not there
    It’s here among us, with family ties.
    Striding along side me in my daily deaths
    Watching my unfoldment.
    Before I was born
    Not much of a honeymoon serenaded by
    the invaders in war stance; on the hunch of
    rebellion you were herded like cattle and
    interned on a pre-war prison ship!
    So; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
    Barbed wire horizons greeted the sunrise
    your morning ‘taibreamh’ , a few songs away.
    Wedding bells now a stunned memory.
    So; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
    Letters from home faintly scented with images
    and languages know in heart and vein;
    brought some comfort as the storms gathered.
    So; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
    The lough; draconian to the boat full of women;
    jeered at from the shore as they approached the fragile
    wreck of the Al-rawdah. Assaulting your nostrils
    the cruelty of the oppressors.
    And so; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
    ‘taibreamh Dream
    Ma’s Piano
    Apart from the regular news bulletin c/o my father
    music surrounded the home like a comfort blanket
    each of us had our own beat.
    In the living room pride of place a grand looking piano
    that mother had bought in an auction, thrilled her
    the very sight of it; never mind the sound.
    It was a big deal to have piano in the home then.
    Contentment to fathers’ erratic fiddle playing I thought.
    Together they weaved our childhood songs.
    She’d often on one hand play a song she’d learnt years ago
    before coming up North when life went by
    at a slower tempo.
    Sometimes at the end of the night her key on piano
    stirred a song in father; Sean Nos singing ensued
    and emotions took over.
    “Sean-nós singing is a highly-ornamented style of solo singing defined by one source as:
    …a rather complex way of singing in Gaelic, confined mainly to some areas in the west and
    south of the country. It is unaccompanied and has a highly ornamented melodic line….Not all
    areas have the same type of ornamentation–one finds a very florid line in Connacht, contrasting
    with a somewhat less decorated one in the south, and, by comparison, a stark simplicity in the
    northern songs”
    This song remembers…
    A song drifted from the neighbours’ yard
    volume high…
    I was back again at the disco.
    My sister sneaked me into the hall
    “Just copy me”
    The flashing light from the DJ box
    caught my eye.
    A lonely mirror ball floated above
    a lit up crossword styled floor, every now
    and then flashing on the beige walls.
    An out-of-town DJ clad in denim
    wearing cowboy boots and moustache;
    flipped his LP’s; then in a radio voice,
    “The first number of the night kicks off
    for all you lovers out there,
    “Love Is Like Oxygen “– Sweet
    Teachers
    Are we ready for them?
    They come to us through life
    some stay only a while
    whilst others stay a life time.
    Some in a passing word
    or expression others
    we have come to know gradually
    whose expansion of soul
    reaches ours.
    I often wonder
    if we appreciate those teachers
    who impart the knowledge
    we lack? I hope so.
    I have sensed it in their energy
    wrestled with the connection, tuned into
    their radio frequency; a message
    will come if we are alert enough.
    Bath a while in this beautiful transmission;
    adrift on the creation of ones soul
    for these teachers may only stay a short while.
    Night falls soon
    The powder pink evening
    combs the sky of summer
    like a comet trailing.
    My eyes dance the last waltz
    of daylight hours.
    A fiery Thrush bob’s its tail
    singing out its last chorus
    gathering up the young
    dallying below in town.
    Trees in eyeshot
    fan the horizon in gestures
    of a soft wave, calling the
    night creatures, return to
    the hedges and stone walls,
    .
    For the sun has retreated
    and the mistress of the moon
    has beckoned her night creatures
    on missions over field and stream.
    The wail of the sleek tom cat
    serenades the urban air, drifting
    out to rural pathways on the prowl.
    The Sniper
    Watching the morning rise above the house
    I open my eyes to the beauty of life’s offer
    The amethyst sky seriating the landscape
    the winding grey of the country roads wavering
    like smoke through the hills.
    The Victorian houses on Gallows Hill
    appear out of the fine mist, scary almost
    as the ghosts of the hanged, who perhaps; loiter
    through it’s red brick buildings, old yards
    and unevenly paved alleyways.
    Cattle balance their hooves upon a sphere
    of grass. A farmer in dungarees drives his
    quad bike against the wandering cattle
    unafraid of its scrambling in the mud.
    Winter loiters behind the hedges and hill sides
    a sniper awaiting Autumns’ end who cares not
    for the order of seasons or ancient god Lúnasa;
    But for his frosty breath to kill the germs that
    have gathered all summer.
    Aine MacAodha is a writer and amateur photographer from Omagh,
    situated in County Tyrone; North of Ireland. This is her second
    collection; her first collection ‘Where the three rivers meet’ was
    published in 2008.
    Poems first appeared.
    World Haiku Review, Vol. 6, Issue 3, Enniscorthy Echo, Peony
    Moon, The Glasgow Review, Celtic Myth Podshow, The Toronto
    Quarterly, Issue 1&2 of soylesi poetry magazine, Debris
    Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Essays and poetry at Luciole Press,
    Shamrock Haiku Journal.
    Also a keen photographer and member of, Saatchi online, Redbubble, Fotolibra, My Art space

    #1745
    AvatarEK
    Keymaster

    Where the Three Rivers Meet
    The Sperrin Mountains
    Dander over the peat clad slopes
    find the ancient past alive
    in the bones of the Sperrins.
    Pigeon top; a silent view.
    Absorb the secrets of the mass rock
    were faceless priests prayed in whispers.
    Beagmore stone circles retell the
    hardships of bronze age man
    strong, creative, protective of family clan.
    The Ogam stone of Greencastle uniquely
    signed by the early communicators
    of this green landscape.
    Take a dander over the Sperrins.
    Sense the myths hidden in bedrock
    hear the echoes of the past re-claimed.
    Barnes Gap, Sperrins Region
    Carved centuries ago
    by the powerful elements
    of wind and ice slicing
    through the countryside.
    Glazed now by a carpet of moss
    and haunted by the hills of
    Mullaghbane and Mullaghbolig
    seem untouched by modern man;
    apart from the odd sheep
    that wandered under the fence
    leaving clots of wool waving
    frantically.
    Tense atmosphere only solidifies
    the cheek of my intrusion.
    Sun plays hide n’ seek
    behind rocks and crevices
    cooling schists once again.
    Aghascrebah Ogham Stone, Ireland
    I feel its supernatural pull
    working its way up from the earth
    and out to the universe.
    Laid by pre-historic man and
    un-earthed by modern farmer
    searching for rich soil.
    Silver almost as the November sky.
    Aiming towards the heavens
    like a beacon over the boundaries.
    Waiting perhaps in this empty field
    surrounded by hedges and bracken;
    for a gathering of a kind to recall
    the deep rooted origins of its
    sweat bearing creators. Their
    words forever notched in stone.
    Into this November air
    a supernatural force
    draws me to it like a magnet.
    Curtain Up
    The morning climbs above the house.
    I admire the beauty of the lifting mist.
    The bleached horizons above the rooftops;
    steam floating of the dewy tiles
    like smoke signals.
    Winding roads too small for map
    marking; cut paths through the county.
    The crows and blackbirds
    line up on the fence
    making the most of the drying puddles
    and refilled nut bags; meant for
    wrens and robins!
    The air blanched of spring with
    the odd housefly busying about.
    Much too early I think.
    ‘As long as the morning light
    combs across your face,
    as long as the curtains open anew;
    there draws the breath of theatre’.
    Waiting at the Station
    The October frost drapes
    the buildings in a cape
    of Christmas lights.
    Sparse maples asleep.
    Yesterday’s newspapers
    gather in circles at the corner,
    catching every now and then
    on the steel bench
    glazed in the breeze.
    A road sweeper
    wrapped in thought
    nods to himself.
    Morning noises appear.
    Milk floats, post vans,
    buses stopping and starting.
    The odd greeting from
    one driver to the other
    tired of the drill.
    I think of your transformation
    from country girl to
    college girl.
    How letting go was worth it,
    seeing how beautiful you’ve grown.
    Fire of the Gaels
    She is every woman
    who struggles for survival
    in a world of prisons
    of one form or another.
    Her stories, etched on the
    landscapes of the universe.
    She is the mouth
    of the Blackwater,
    the secrets of the Alder,
    the writing on the caves
    and the shedder of light.
    She is the blueprints
    of the past,
    the wishes of the unborn,
    the spirit of the crops
    and the heat of the sun
    bursting on buds.
    She’s the midges on the lough,
    the guardian of the wells,
    the bones of the earth
    and the ties that bind
    by spirit and blood.
    She’s the songs sung so often
    renewed on the lips of the young.
    Her tongue fiery can cut like an axe
    or sooth like a lullaby.
    She is goddess of the people,
    the fire on the hills.
    She’s the shadow on the stones
    glinting on river beds.
    The breath of a new morning,
    and a beacon in the night.
    She is every woman.
    She is Aine,
    fire of the gaels.
    Beurla *
    In the confines of my mind
    I converse in my native tongue;
    recall early school lessons,
    is mise, slan agat go foil, gradh.
    They fade like my childhood,
    warmed on knees by open fires.
    Songs of Wexford and Vinegar Hill
    fused with Tyrone’s bardic thrill.
    Secondary school brought the troubles,
    beurla, the fading of the Irish tongue
    lost in the distance of war and
    forbidden to utter out of the home.
    My words travel through me
    like the oak saturated in bogs
    awaiting the re-newel of better times.
    Acknowledged, embraced and refined.
    * Beurla is Irish for the English language.
    Bundoran, County Donegal
    Embracing the salt curtain of the green Atlantic
    sway to and fro towards me;
    waves rest on the algae rocks rounded to a
    smooth knob. Belts of seaweed find resting places
    in pools of water clear as amber.
    I hear the children’s screams from the ghost train
    shuttling in the distance, but the Atlantic calls
    me back towards it again. Stained by history,
    there’s something about this ocean that calls
    to me, healing my winter worn trunk.
    Perhaps it’s there, deep in the blue where I’ll find
    solace. Where old wrecks filled with tales
    from when time began, uniting stories of inland
    folk finding gods in the wilderness of boglands
    and meeting goddesses of the deep.
    Banba
    Tara, Ireland’s spiritual home,
    cries out to ancient hearts,
    save her from the greed of fools
    who’ll rip her soul apart.
    In myths we recall our living past,
    woven as carpet on the landscape.
    In stones, trees and bog;
    in birds, horse and dog.
    The stitches of the wisdom keepers
    relay story, song and poem,
    secure in the bright knowledge
    that their words will have a home.
    Oh sacred bile, Oh graveyard Yew,
    the Hawthorn and the Oak;
    the Hazel, Alder and the Rowan,
    the Willow and the faery folk.
    Pay homage to the spirits of Tara,
    the ones who went before
    the Warriors, Bards and Kings,
    the Queens and many more.
    Losing My Religion
    It wasn’t easy growing up
    around the fortress
    of a garrison town.
    When the troubles
    were our second coats,
    fear our constant companion.
    The instinctual things
    a teenager had to know
    by heart, by soul.
    What side of the street
    was yours to tread?
    Cover up the school
    uniform in the town,
    or it sealed your fate
    like a patriotic tattoo,
    or a flag always flying;
    when certain colours
    out of safety zones meant
    a potential beating.
    Knowing to keep your
    head down when the
    landrovers followed you home.
    Divided by a war we didn’t
    fully understand.
    When escape meant the border
    singing Irish songs of freedom,
    horslips and Celtic rock
    without the watchful eye of
    bigots.
    Now the shroud of war is lifted,
    I can envelope myself in the beauty
    of my own country without fear or
    regret.
    Either Side of the Headlines
    You waltzed on orange lino
    between hearth and couch,
    lilting like a spring sparrow;
    securing a strong arm on Ma’s back,
    not once out of step.
    News headlines guaranteed silence.
    Your face etched in thick lines
    enhanced by concentration.
    Ma presents corn beef and tomatoes,
    which you eat noisily without teeth.
    Coal spits from the unguarded fire, sending
    smoke signals from the half-circle rug.
    My daydreams, fractured by cutlery,
    moving on the empty plates.
    Haiku
    Omagh from above —
    a butterfly in full bloom,
    spreading her wings.
    Scars on the hillsides —
    gorse no longer wave
    careless youth.
    Spiders’ patterns
    on conifers
    wearing a fine shawl.
    Cracks in the pavement,
    ants pulling
    a fly.
    Daughter Dear
    Must you count every calorie?
    Every ounce of fat in the shopping bag?
    She’s disgusted at the amount of them
    in one lousy biscuit.
    We argue the toss about the taste
    of full milk and creamy butter,
    and ‘How in the hell do ye eat fried bacon?’.
    I know she has a point; yet
    I play it down just in case this
    takes over her life and she eats
    nothing at all, she at that age
    when everyone in the magazines are whisper thin,
    and without blemish.
    Whisperings
    Our ancient bloodlines
    are calling to us;
    interrogating us
    with wisps of insight.
    They are turning
    in their boggy graves,
    surfaced over time.
    They rise out from
    small lakes hidden
    on the land.
    Through dreams at
    night, and ponderings
    of the daylight.
    Among glen and forests,
    and from branches of the
    thorn and elder.
    From the angler’s rod
    cast on rivers. On salmon
    longing for the open seas.
    In tales, myths and poetry
    their marks will not fade
    like snapshots in the sun.
    Our lands are piled
    high and low, deep and wide
    with blue prints of a time when
    spoken signals were the headlines.
    Our ancestors are turning
    in their graves.
    Luna
    Losing shadows that follow
    from these troubled acres
    is hard going at times.
    When it’s those same shadows
    you seek to understand
    what it all came down to.
    Three in the morning brings relief;
    nature is more calmer and cools
    to a creaking lullaby.
    Some birds sleep sound.
    The urban ones
    blether through the night.
    The moon solemnly gives orders
    to orchestrate the night crawlers
    on missions. She casts shadows
    in dimly lit corners of the globe.
    She’ll never be the sun,
    blitzing the crops, warming
    the shadows.
    But she’ll always be the catalyst,
    calling you back to the past.
    Loneliness
    Loneliness has a bite,
    not a nibble,
    but a razor sharp bite.
    Morning flounces openly
    showing off its tie-dyed light.
    The hills beyond my window,
    glazed by the mist
    blown in off the Atlantic,
    fusing Donegal, Sligo and Tyrone
    in a painters paradise of shade.
    The starlings argue for space
    on the corrugated garage roof.
    Unnerved by the chatter on the floor-court,
    they’ve made a tiny field on the roof,
    green as the hills.
    Loneliness has a bite, razor sharp,
    and I need it like the views I see.
    It calls me back to nature,
    makes me more aware of the innocence
    and beauty of the forgotten.
    Mise Eire
    Talk to me of bogs,
    of blankets on the land.
    Talk to me of myths
    you have at your command.
    Tell me of Cu Chulainn,
    the hero hound of Ulster,
    the battles of the Tain Bo
    and the warriors of Munster,
    the progress of the firbolgs.
    The De danaans on the hill
    remind me of our legends
    of folklore through the quill.
    Talk to me of forests,
    of flora and fauna there.
    Talk to me of mountains
    in Tyrone and in Kildare.
    Tell me now of the future
    of equality in the land.
    Speak to me of serenity,
    so the tribes can understand.
    Oak Lake, County Tyrone
    It’s easy to imagine
    these scooped out hollows
    were once filled with ice;
    melting as the did stamping
    kettle holes on the landscape.
    The lake waltzes to and fro
    like a child mesmerized
    by magical stories voiced
    by an old teller of tales.
    Its edges flanked with an audience of
    purple moss, pink cranberry flower
    and the burnt orange of summer gorse,
    all paying homage by showiness.
    A clump of rushes moves slightly.
    I think of childhood tales of
    the watershee luring one off
    to the silver world of faeries.
    The light of the day now slipping
    ever so peacefully behind the
    peaks of the Sperrins. I shall go now
    and take its essence with me,
    to sooth my night quests ahead.
    Morning Has Broken
    The early morning frost leaks
    through the old frames.
    Frozen webs leave intricate patterns
    that should be framed for prosperity.
    Shadows flank the hills as mist
    gathers like midges on Lough Muck.
    Cows huddle for heat at the hedge,
    leaving billowing clouds of breath.
    Below, the newly built Texaco garage
    begins the alien noises of the day.
    Car doors slam, hydraulic breaks scream,
    and school kids fill up with energy.
    Then like an open wound, the horizon
    splits the grey morning, bringing with it
    a baked setting full of challenges and hope
    for coming hours.
    Mirror Image
    I see him stroll along Bridge St.
    in his chef’s outfit,
    with his I-Pod firmly
    placed in his ears;
    hair growing out of one style,
    curls at the collar.
    He’s got his grandpa’s dimple
    pressed urgently on his chin;
    touched by the angels I’m told.
    The spitting image of the grandpa;
    the way he nods hello,
    head slightly lowered,
    eyes raised in a half-shy way;
    a moon crest grin.
    His arms swallow me
    in an umbilical comfort.
    Strong now, his surly grip
    releases worries that I carry.
    Morning Stroll
    Petrol spills from engines
    glisten like magic rainbows
    in the wind cursed mid-day.
    Red robins leave watery drips
    on jeans and T-shirts
    flapping on clothes lines,
    dotted at the gardens of Okane.
    I’m annoyed still at the
    new great Northern road,
    carved seven miles into
    the Tyrone countryside.
    Still, there’s snickets and
    fences to master before
    I’m on the old road again.
    Traffic now slows for the
    odd tractor and a pair of
    fast walkers with earphones.
    A crafty sheep dog darts
    along the hedges, ushering
    rebel sheep. A whistle in
    the wind brings them into
    line again.
    My shawl catches on the overgrown
    Brambles. I laugh as if somehow
    they do it for badness.
    Crows squabble high in roosts.
    Leaves shower the road and me.
    The heat has brought out midges.
    They hover at the burn that creeps
    along the bank, making
    its way to the lough.
    Night Falls Soon
    The powder pink evening
    combs the sky of summer,
    like a comet trailing.
    My eyes dance the last waltz
    of daylight hours.
    A fiery thrush bobs its tail,
    singing out its last chorus
    whilst gathering up the young,
    dallying below in town.
    Trees in eyeshot
    fan the horizon in gestures
    of a soft wave, calling the
    night creatures, return to
    the hedges and stone walls.
    For the sun has retreated,
    and the mistress of the moon
    has beckoned her night creatures
    on missions over field and stream.
    The wail of the sleek tomcat
    serenades the urban air, drifting
    out to rural pathways — on the prowl.
    Old Societies
    Rain takes on a silver sheen
    thundering past the window,
    encouraging the worm to rise.
    Already the blackbird furrows
    with his yellow beak, knowing
    what lies beneath.
    I think of pre-historic societies
    leaving their stamp on the land in
    stone circles, megalithic tombs,
    standing stones and raths.
    I imagine they were signposts
    pointing the safest way ahead
    to the nearest village; gathering
    points, perhaps. Their own
    creations dotted about
    the landscape.
    I feel a
    certain kinship with them — those
    who came before.
    The worm: I wonder what its
    aura holds? What has it come upon
    whilst pushing clay,
    slipping into worlds unseen?
    I wish the rain to cease,
    the blackbird to scarper
    and the worm to live another day.
    Oldcroghan Man *
    This island is a living carpet,
    worn by clans of cousins who
    weaved into the land
    a pattern not for the
    the untrained eye.
    Oldcroghan man,
    baked in this oven of peat,
    symbolizes our spent lineage
    of boundaries and fields.
    Beheaded and tortured,
    he stood tall as a pine tree.
    Who was this nameless lad?
    A high king, killed in ritual,
    or killed in a jealous rage?
    Was it a warning to other youths
    who may yearn for the new,
    denouncing the old?
    I wear a leather twang like his,
    woven with love on May Day.
    The hands of Croghan man
    hold no labourers welts,
    but groomed nails; ideally cleaned.
    He joins others that came before:
    Meeybradden Woman and Gallagh man.
    They come to remind us to read the bog
    chapter by chapter; learn from ghosts of the past.
    * Oldcroghan man is the latest body to be unearthed after 2000 years in the bog. Found in Co. Offley Ireland.
    Endings
    The teens have called time on life
    before it’s even begun.
    Slavery of a sort hangs in the air.
    They starve themselves
    in a time of fruition;
    convince themselves that
    they’re too ugly to go out.
    Trapped by their own demons,
    visual demons that scrape
    at their youthful bodies,
    drilling, thin, thin, thin,
    from the magazines on news stands;
    from the plasma screen
    in their bedrooms.
    They don’t believe in flaws,
    the odd spot, scar, ruddy skin,
    eye slightly bigger than the other.
    They have bought into perfection;
    captive also to drugs that alter their minds.
    For some, there’s no way back.
    They’ve called time on life,
    before it’s even begun.
    Lough Derg St. Patrick’s Purgatory, 1979
    Tricha and I were punks
    in the war years.
    To rid us of defiance
    our Mas’ sent us
    off to Lough Derg.
    The basilica rose out of
    the morning mist like a vision
    out of a Hammer horror movie.
    The boat ride fearsome,
    as the oldies prayed with the bishop.
    This was it three days fasting,
    no sleep and no shoes allowed.
    We followed the elders,
    kneeling, praying and walking.
    The all-night vigil blasted us like
    a raging argument.
    Rain fell hard off the Pettico Hills,
    wind from the Atlantic.
    Stopping at cells with names
    of early missioners: St Brigit, Brendan,
    Columba, Patrick, Davog
    and Molaise.
    For three days food was black tea and dry toast.
    We touched the resources of spirit within.
    We thought of home, of
    ‘My perfect cousin’and ‘anarchy’.
    We were heroes then,
    amid the barricades.
    Black 47
    Often in times of deep meditation,
    walking through the Tyrone hills,
    I’ll stand at a fence and ease my eyes
    out over the Sperrin mountain range.
    The fields so lush and full of fertility,
    the hum of agricultural goings-on.
    The views take me by surprise.
    I think of the “starvation” that swallowed
    my ancestors — an image that stings the air still.
    Spirits roam these hills covered in mass graves,
    or deep in lanes were they fell, starved of food;
    food that was packed in ships bound for England,
    to feed the chosen few,
    whilst the poor, here, ordered to eat only potatoes,
    died of structured starvation.
    I can’t imagine what it’s like to go hungry,
    to be tortured by the power of it,
    to watch your child fade and die,
    to see a race almost wiped out; a race who
    tilled that same fertile land.
    Who is culpable? What of the mass exodus?
    Was there trickery involved? Greedy landowners
    offering ships bound for new lands
    where land, food and pay was promised.
    Thousands died on the rough seas.
    Others settled, always loving their spiritual home.
    Who will acknowledge this crime
    against the Irish nation, a nation whose scars
    are plain to see even to the present day?
    Healing will begin only when we look
    into the past, were shadows linger and questions
    hang in the air. Dark Rosaleen still awaits an apology.
    Remembering
    When old ladies in
    sheepskin jackets and
    headscarves walk by,
    I think of you.
    The secrets of motherhood
    drift into the air,
    in wisps of violets and
    wild roses.
    On the bells, too,
    of the sacred heart chapel,
    ringing out the angelus,
    in the click of rosaries
    in lofty chapels, in
    the call of the corncrake
    from distant hills,
    and from the headlines
    in newspapers
    that drift along dusty streets
    of sleepy inland villages.
    Your headscarf knotted tight
    under the chin brings a
    narrowness to your face,
    framing the Viking nose and
    Vinegar Hill pride.
    The wisdom of motherhood
    dwells deep inside of me
    like a well I can dip into,
    when sorely needed.
    St Colmcille
    I think of this monk
    born on our barren lands.
    A time when blanket bogs
    covered most of its surfaces,
    and the sea the only way out.
    How his mother was visited by an angel
    saying he would spread faith
    and an understanding of Christianity
    throughout Ireland and beyond.
    Colmcille understood both tribes.
    Pagans he knew well, Christianity
    he was learning.
    A foot in both worlds.
    I think of Jesus wandering in the desert,
    battling demons in the baking sun.
    Colmcille’s desert: a horizon met with
    deserted bog lands and mountainous hills
    from Derry to Tyrone.
    Mother
    I seek you in the lakes of Tyrone,
    the lesser known ones whose beauty
    remains unblemished by progress.
    In the curling streams at war
    with the elements, and whose
    very existence is threatened by
    housing developments.
    I look for you as summer coughs up
    its last songs of the season.
    I seek your words in her breath,
    in the secrets of motherhood
    asleep in the elderly, yearning
    recall once again.
    I seek it, too, in the faces of youth,
    in the songs they sing from
    the concrete forests they live in.
    I also seek it in me,
    when dark clouds
    gather up a storm.
    That Age
    I think I’ve reached it:
    this middle ground in life.
    Crows feet emerge without
    negotiation; bunches of
    greying hair hover like
    mist on the October hedge.
    My offspring have fled the
    roost, making their own now.
    Wasn’t easy being Ma and Da.
    I think of the failed mixed
    marriage, the 80’s being a
    time of change —
    fusing bodhran and lambeg
    was no easy task.
    I’m beginning to resemble
    my mother. Her frown and
    pondering nature, her hand on
    hip, stares out to the horizon …
    my father’s need for the headlines …
    I stand still in a changing field,
    like the Ogam stones of Tyrone,
    grey and pointing skyward.
    There are many tracks before me,
    all leading down some road.
    Morning pains subside in
    the summer heat, like the
    creaking wood of the stairs.
    I think I’ve reached it:
    endured the dark nights of the soul.
    What now?
    Thoughts on the Wing
    It’s 4.30 in the morning.
    Wild birds sleep none
    nowadays. Their talk
    in the moonless night
    takes my thoughts,
    as dawns sheet appears
    among the diamond sky.
    They float over brook
    and riverbed,
    under ancient bridges
    amid fools gold that’s
    smoothed by salmon and
    rainbow trout.
    The May bush lifts them again,
    further afield to Lock Erne,
    Devenish Island, Killybegs
    where the fishermen gather
    to read the ocean;
    to the sifting sands
    of Rossnowlagh Strand
    were winter dwells, awaiting
    spring’s coat;
    returning home refreshed,
    just as dawn bursts her seams.
    Torn
    Between love and hormonal shoals of friends.
    Estranged from birth flock
    without the pack seem lost.
    A fawn dislodged from mother,
    struggling to locate semi-safe ground.
    Her heart warmed by another’s fiery arrow.
    Confused, yet amused by gestures and similarities
    of thoughts.
    The angst inside I assure will subside,
    when no longer can she play tug-of-war
    in the playing fields of youth.
    A warm smile displays, like a cabinet,
    newfound pearls of wisdom:
    that one day she’ll walk without the safety net.
    Sure of balance
    Sure of love.
    The Fiddler
    He cosies it under the chin,
    or thereabout,
    like a favourite scarf
    from college days.
    The music already forming in
    his mind’s eye.
    He’s played this air a thousand times,
    yet each time it surges from
    a different notion.
    The horsehair bow
    gallops a few times in practice
    for the main event.
    The listeners, young and old,
    heed the waltz with arms
    outstretched.
    He rests on the waltz.
    ‘Give me your hand’
    The dancers glide in perfect
    sway to the fiddler’s tune.
    Like a shaman he leads them
    to another time when music
    filled the night air under stars.
    His ears are on alert, watching
    for one wrong beat.
    The dancers care not,
    they are lost in the music of the fiddler.
    Annaghmakerrig 2002 *
    The big house greets with an air of mystery,
    petitioning to the gods a poem or song
    to touch all our yesterdays.
    The lake pretends to scowl at night and
    wraps the waiting horizon in thought.
    The ruthless breeze is laden with insight.
    Songs find their way through the air.
    The hearth inherits the fallen spruce,
    whilst artists gather their cares.
    Spoken signals gather like crochet,
    fermenting works that ooze out in dreams,
    and filter into daylight masterpieces.
    * Annaghmakerrig is a house in Co. Monahan, left in the will of theatre director Tyrone Guthrie for artists of all
    disciplines to “create” away from the interferences of the world.
    My Sort of Day
    This is the sort of day
    that memories weave a carpet
    in shades of fallen leaves
    or in tones of winter’s coat.
    The sort of day
    when love greets
    with a pregnant smile
    below the baked horizon.
    The sort of day
    the Tyrone hills emerge
    through the mist like gods
    awaiting the day’s offerings.
    The sort of day
    cobwebs freeze lunar patterns
    on hawthorn bushes
    like maps to the silver world.
    This is the sort of day
    wars should end,
    haters make amends
    and disease should be no more.
    The Sin Eater
    Together we sat on the confessional bench,
    listening to the click of heels on mosaic tiles
    awaiting the queue to die.
    A lady who lived in God’s house
    watched us girls with her salmon eye
    and every move we made.
    Whispered penances showered the chapel.
    Orderly shuffling from oldies denoted
    our turn now; our sins would be eaten.
    The gridded partition creaked like old knuckles.
    I almost forgot: ‘Bless me father’, as my
    knees located a softer spot on the floor.
    Beads sang in a distracting manner.
    Father Brown’s pressing vowels asked after my sins.
    My soul now white, I returned to the bench.
    Starlings at Dawn
    They flounce into my morning,
    just as dawn crawls over the roof, and
    squawk to locate their newly found songs;
    eager to appease mother who shimmies
    to and fro with mother’s pride.
    The corner of my roof carries noises.
    Claws scrape pleadingly on wood,
    discontented squabbles from one who lost the worm.
    Mother squeezes her narrow body through a corner crevice;
    her silhouetted wings accurately glide into place.
    It quietens for a spell, until its time for a coaxed flight.
    Then it’s my turn to rouse the household sound asleep in the far room,
    away from the bird songs.
    Dear Sir
    Dear Sir,
    please excuse my son’s absence.
    He slept in.
    We slept in.
    The night before he studied into the small hours
    the mechanics of skateboarding,
    counting new bruises and fading others.
    How he can “ollie” sets of steps without broken marrow.
    It releases his anger,
    how the words of Curt Cobain relate to his 180-degree kick-flip,
    and the thrill of a half pipe,
    that being 16 messes with his head and
    no one understands.
    And how is it fair his girlfriend lives ten miles away,
    and he’s no car?
    Why work at the weekend tires him,
    and grunge pulls him through.
    So Sir, may I call you sir?
    I hope you understand my son’s absence this time.
    Wet July ‘07
    The late evening sky
    clamps its joyless cloud
    upon the market town.
    Cattle in the field beyond
    trudge towards the gate
    looking depressed.
    Without the TV forecast
    I read the patterned clouds.
    Plain and purl columns
    knit their way towards me.
    Smoke signals, from the Victorian
    houses on Gallows Hill.
    That’s all it takes
    to ignite the fires here.
    I await the storm, prepared.
    Stones
    I can’t pass a stream,
    river or seashore today
    without seeking them.
    The smoothed shapes,
    worn by the waves
    or carried by the escape
    of mountain springs, flowing
    toward brooks and burns,
    drawing upon them a golden glow.
    They take pride of place
    on my window sills,
    on doilies made of lace.
    Others might collect pottery
    or bone china,
    I have an indoor rockery.
    Omagh: Seat of Chiefs
    Housing secrets down the ages
    in its under-belly, and
    in the layers of rock
    and street names:
    Castle Street, Gallows Hill,
    Goal Square, Canon Hill.
    Well below, the street’s scant
    passages lead to the heavy courthouse whose
    presence dominates the town.
    Voices of the past muted through its
    thick granite outpouring.
    The essence of its history also embedded
    in the gravely basins where the three rivers meet:
    the Drumragh, Camowen and the Strule.
    Rivers that unite in finding their way to the
    Atlantic — to cast their sins upon the waves.
    Tree House at Sloughen Glen
    On our way to Sloughen Glen, deep in the hills of Drumquin,
    we hardly notice the climb; yet feel it in our fume-filled lungs.
    Out of the side of a hill, amid brambles and giant ferns,
    a shell of a house appears with postcard views out over
    the Tyrone countryside.
    The gift of life still grows from its un-thatched roof: a gift
    in the form of a blackthorn tree. It grows with pride
    up through the rooms holding, I’m sure, stories in its trunk.
    Memories of a time when its hearth was lit and life flourished.
    I think of the family who may have lived there:
    children playing in the yard, a few livestock, life.
    I listen to the quiet sounds of spring, and remember that
    the regeneration of small towns has crept nearer and nearer
    to the beauty spots. One day this may well be gone.
    Perhaps great grandchildren will return one day,
    seeking their ancestral home. They may;
    and find life grows there still.
    Where Man Fails
    I see the beauty in the clear winter moon,
    spraying its steel haze over the old town.
    Where man fails,
    nature does its best; instilling life among
    the rubble and ruins of houses and parks.
    Where man fails,
    the elements rage at the world with warnings
    and threats of disasters.
    Where man fails,
    again, I see these familiar blanket bogs;
    and find hope in the solitude of them.
    A Prayer to the Integrity of Words
    Bless the verbs and nouns that
    carry rivers of verse in their hour of need.
    Bless their totality of wisdom,
    greeting morality with novels amassed.
    Usage, bringing tribal flouncing and
    indecent drifting.
    Without the integrity of words
    our clans may never meet or greet,
    for many ensembles would slither unheard.
    52
    A Cheated Spouse
    I study your eyes;
    they waltz slowly,
    exposing the pain
    and sorrow of a
    cheated spouse.
    With the stubbornness of youth
    you refuse a tear,
    like a star dulled with the
    desertedness of distance;
    memories of love, then,
    when hearts leaped in unison.
    The tribal greeting of dewy lips,
    the sting of the lovers’ tiff.
    It’s the eyes that dance death,
    lost in socket and bone;
    the cheated spouse now alone.
    I look into your eyes;
    with no surprise you refuse
    animation of memory with rage —
    as I think I would.
    Native Speakers
    I envy your tongue,
    how the silvery words evoke
    the layered past of home.
    Snippets recalled from early
    youth slip out in dreams
    during the day-light hours;
    in particles of conversations
    on radio Telefis Eireann,
    wheezing from Da’s old wireless
    that needed time to heat
    for clearer contact.
    I can’t translate without
    a book to help me,
    yet I don’t want to.
    The words
    of your poems
    speak for themselves.
    About the Author
    Aine MacAodha was born Ann Keys, in the North of Ireland in 1963. Her sense of place
    growing up amid the war in the north, and the beauty surrounding it, inspires her writing.
    This is her first collection of poems spanning ten years. The title of Where the Three Rivers
    Meet refers to the three rivers in Omagh that meet in the town’s centre: The Strule, Drumragh
    and the Camowen. She also draws much of her inspiration from The Sperrin Mountains, in
    her native Tyrone.
    Her work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies throughout Ireland (most
    recently in A New Ulster ), the USA and the UK. She is a founder member of the Omagh Writers
    Group, The Busheaneys and The Derry Playhouse Writers, and is also a member of Haiku
    Ireland.
     

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