Explanations of War
See all those bright lights whizzing around in the sky-
They are only the stars throwing a party.
And the shaking you feel beneath you,
The shaking that jars your teeth and your bones-
That is only the way the earth dances.
And the bangs and roars, the cracks and blasts and booms-
These are only the sounds of little spirits tuning their instruments.
And the horrible wailing that rises and falls, rises and falls above the buildings-
That is only the rooftops shrieking their envy that they cannot fly off.
And the high fires that climb above the rooftops-
These are the rejoicing souls of our city flying to heaven.
And the black clouds of smoke blotting the beautiful woman of the moon-
These are our dark acts evaporating.
And you my child, lying still in my arms,
Lying stiff as a mould of ancient clay,
You my child, you are only sleeping.
The Boy in the Ring
Where is the boy?
The boy is in the ring.
And where is the ring?
The ring is in the school-yard.
And what makes up the ring?
The ring is made of other boys.
What kind is this ring?
It is a spinning ring, and a jeering ring
a hissing ring
a rhyming ring
a kicking ring
a spitting ring
a teeth, tongue and eyelidring
a hair and eyes ring
a snot and nostrils ring
a knee and knuckles ring
a fist and boot and mouth and ear and elbow ring.
Who is the god of this ring?
The god of the ring is unknown.
Jack O the Lantern maybe
or the scarecrow with the two axes
or a wailing midnight wind
or a sack of smashed glass
What is the boy doing in the ring?
The boy is looking
at himself in the ring
He is sitting down
and looking at himself
in the ring.
Why did the boy go into the ring?
The boy never went into the ring
When will the boy get out of the ring?
A Guide to the Model Village
We're not being smart
Tom Thumb is our blacksmith
We've a dozen Spinning Jennys here on loan from Lilliput
The Sly Fella's calling to arms from the back of a lorry
the length of a shoebox
The Big Fella and his penny farthing
would fit in your pocket
There's a rosy six inch Irish maiden for you
collecting palstic apples in our knee-high forest
mind don't step on Molly Malone's first cousin
and she hawking a basket of plasticine salmon
We're not supposed to use the church spire for leaning
but its handy for an elbow-rest when you're smoking
and the nave is just the right height and angle
for comfortable sitting
and believe me
if we needed to
or were ever asked
we could easily dismantle the brewery
stamp on the charnel house
kick in the workhouses' walls
flatten the schools and the barracks
trample the cotton mills into the ground.
We'd go down on all fours
and like the big bad wolves
we'd huff and we'd puff
till the whole of Pearse Street
and Emmett Square were just whirling smithereens
but we're not that dangerous or threatening
and we never were truly,
one good sweep of a yard brush
would clear away our part in the rising
and we're at least fifteen score miles
and three generations away
from the slightest need
Instead, when we're suspended
in the long dying
of an August afternoon
between a busload of Spanish artillerymen
and a troop of Korean nuns
we pore over Lonely Planets
and Rough Guides
and Philip's maps of the universe
plotting our autumn's escapes
to the never-ending highs
in Shane McGowan's Siam
when the gulf stream is flowing royally in
to occupy Inchadoney bay
and the cavalier breeze with its muskets of sand
its acids and powders of citrus and flesh
is blasting the stink of ancient shite away
then us summer guides can count
on making it through
to our various starlit elopements
to the rainbows of the moon
While we're waiting
we're here and at your service
we'll give you the essence of four hundred years
in fifteen learned off paragraphs
and recite the short story of how
our settlement grew on a stone in the wood
tripped over a long time ago
by a very minor Tudor
That's our miniature town in a nutshell
That's our model village for you
Do come and visit sir and don't forget
to bring along your friends
You know very well Clonakilty's future depends,
on the kindness of giants like you
so God be with you sir
and God's blessings on your wife and family
and God help us..