Poems From The Boreen, p.1Tom O'Brien
POEMS FROM THE BOREEN
(c) 2016 Tom O’Brien
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THE GREEN FORGOTTEN VALLEYS
Those green forgotten valleys,
No longer can be seen
Lying hidden behind the tall fir and larch
That have made these brown hills green
Relentlessly marching down the hills
Burying everything in their wake
The dead are long gone from this place
The pike no longer in the lake
The houses just hollow shells now
Where the past ghosts eerily through
The vacant windows and doors
With rotted frames and jambs that once were new.
Back then there was no silence, only the sound
Of human laughter, and bird-calls to each other
The dogs growling at a wayward sheep.
And children’s scrapes kissed better by their mother
Nature is having the last laugh now
Soon there will be no trace of us at all
As the trees come marching down the hillside
No one hears the lonesome curlew’s call.
SEPTEMBER IS THE LOVELIEST MONTH
September is the loveliest month.
The sky is on permanent fire
The trees painted many colours
Burnished, it seems, with pure desire
In the park, ducks glide silently by
And the always busy seagulls
Coming in to land from on high
Whilst near the dozing oak tree
The squirrels nutmeg each other
Each acorn hoarded
For the soon-to-come cold weather.
Your arm in mine
We stroll down the park
Heading towards the sunset
Home before dark.
FETCHING THE WATER WITH NEDDY
Where I come from is who I am:
Tangled blackberry bushes
Smoke rising from a solitary chimney
The pine grove in the distance
And Father shouting
“More water in that barrel”
As we bucketed it from our well
To our asses cart,
Creel-less for once.
Other days Neddy would be laden down
With wood from the nearby thicket
Ash trees, young Sally’s, stumps of furze bushes.
Sometimes he hauled sand and gravel
From the quarry at Carroll’s Cross,
Part of Father’s master plan
To build us an outside toilet.
This would mean more water from the well
To feed the tank on its roof,
Unless it rained a lot
Which of course it often did
In our neck of the woods.
You heard the voices too
At Passchendaele where you
Cowered as the big guns
Bombarded your world to silence
Blasted your thoughts to kingdom come
And left you forlorn
On that ragged outcrop
In the foothills of the Comeraghs
The fox and the curlew your only companions
The gurgling Mahon Falls
All there was to quench your thirst.
For thirty years you trod those hills
Taking little notice
Of ordinary life around you going on
Your presence on the mountain a constant reminder
Of mans’ inhumanity to man.
THE BLUE LAGOONS OF MAYO
Like oceans behind my eyes
The blue lagoons of Mayo glittered in the mist
‘Blue lagoons of Mayo? – Christ that’s rich’, remarked O’Hare
‘Unless the bogs have changed their colour since I resided there’
‘I remember ploughing through the Mayo wind and rain
And ne’er a pinch of blue did I ever snare
Do you remember The Playboy of the Western World?
Christy Mahon – now he could tell you a thing or three
About bogs, blue or otherwise
And windswept, storm-ridden, mackerel skies
He thought he killed his father
But no such luck
Like a faithful old dog
He followed Christy fretfully through mist and fog
Howlng into the wind
You never killed me with your loy
That time back there in the bog, boy’ ‘.
Every month a ritual enactment
For the rent man
Mother, floury nose and doughed-up hands,
Us children banished to the scullery,
A whispered ‘don’t you laugh now’
A silent prayer
And the teapot ready
Beside the rent book.
Every month ‘good morning Mrs Moran’
Lovely day to be sure’ and
YesI will have a cup of tea, thank you’
And every month a glowing red nose,
Lit up like a hot coal.
Every month silence from the scullery
Until the day little Tommy fell off his perch
And tumbled through the scullery door
To land in a heap in front
Of that illuminated face.
And then mother turning,
The sugar bowl in her hand
Saying – much too casually -
‘How many sugars would you like on your nose?’
THE CROWD SHOUT OUT FOR MORE
I never thought I’d say
That Ireland is to me
Just another piece of ‘real-estate’ today;
The place where we murdered rabbits
On nights both windy and dark
Giving them that old one-two
With a rigid hand behind the neck;
The place where we captured hares
For coursing in the glen
The blood coursing wildly through our veins
As Morrisseys lurcher
Swept them up from behind – again
The place where Mass was said
And Politics pled
On Sunday mornings
While inside, the sermon was read;
The little man was important then
And favours done or causes won
Were little enough
To cause much concern to anyone
Not any more
Now that the greedy guts hold all the floor
And all you hear is rampant cheers
And raucous shouts for more
It’s that time of year again
Black fingers, black lips
And nobody seems to care.
We picked them as youngsters
Way back when;
My mother making some pin money
Who called round once a week
In his big truck
And shovelled our offerings
Into his steel bin
As close-packed as they would go,
Dripping black water as he worked;
Mothers little trick of making them heavier
Than they should be
Was to add water to the barrel.
I see you were out picking them in the rain again, Mrs O’Brien
Was his only comment as he handed over her payment,
Here’s an extra half crown for your trouble.
DOING THE CONGA
The cows were in the fields again today,
As they grazed their lives away.
What thoughts did they possess
As they chewed their grass so sweet;
Did they think about their comrades
That they did daily meet;
Or the colour of their skin
As they passed in the noonday sun;
With their patchwork blankets skin-tight
As they congo-ed past as one.
HOW TO MEASURE RAIN
Walking through an ancient woodland
Wildflower meadows glinting through the trees
Man and nature working together
The whistle of unseen songbirds drifting on the breeze.
Watery flatlands and Roman dykes
Juxtaposed with hydro-electric pumps
Stratiform precipitation falling from nimbostratus
Condensing into water droplets that look like rainy lumps.
Grey unchanging weather that doesn’t go anywhere fast
Two woodpeckers on a grass verge looking for ants
A kingfisher unzips the air
And a shrew lies dead by the river banks.
Worms brought to the surface by tapping rain
A sparrow hawk hunched in a leafless ash tree
While above a coven of goldfinches cause a riot – again.
An April walk through the sunshine and showers
Huge, creamy candles of horse chestnuts hang down
Still locked inside ripening green flowers
This is farmed arable land
But laymen have long lost interest
Where food come from anymore
Apart from what’s written on the packet inside the supermarket door
The rain falls on everything
Both the living and the dead
Walking has deepened my feeling for outside
This is my week of getting wet.
LOVE POEM FROM BONMAHON
God in his heaven never bettered this;
Never hit perfection more square-on.
Rugged cliffs lip the strand,
Opening to fields behind,
The Atlantic, white-layered,
Sweeping into the bay,
Its hurry washed-out
By the tug of sand, gently rising,
A tangle of marram crowns the dunes,
Tousled, like windswept hair;
Whilst, on the slopes nearby,
A line of white cottages
Vie for prominence with the old church
Yet, it is the call of the waves
That steals most of the aces;
Those riderless white horses
Sweeping relentlessly in,
With their whispering lisps;
‘I love you, please don’t go,
I love you please don’t go’
And I, watching the ebb-tide dragging them back,
Silently mouthing in their wake;
‘She loves me, she loves me not,
She loves me, she loves me not...’
Poems From The Boreen by Tom O'Brien / History & Fiction have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on19 votes