Shots and Cheers and Gassy Beers

We are changelings, bound to time
concious of our fugacious youth.

Drunk with elixirs and empty promises,
limping from cradle to grave,
leaning on experience
clinging to la dulce vita
each gift, every compliment.

I am tired.
Tired of gaiety and noisy expectation.
Shots and cheers and gassy beers
and tired of growing old. And useless.

I am a changeling, bound to time
conscious of my fugacious youth.

Time has played her tricks on me.
Fool that I am. I was suckered.
Minuteshoursdaysweeksmonthsyears
An amalgam of frittered, wasted moments.

I try to second guess the man I am to become. Will it be the shambling old man, with the ruddy cracked face and darting sad eyes? Or a melancholic alcoholic living on whisky and bread? A middle aged goth in black.

I guess I need a Clarence.

I am a bit player.
A chorus line dancer.
An extra on the stage.
Losing my looks
and desperately holding onto my mind.

A blink in the scheme of things.
I’m just passing through.

Like a ripple.

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Morning cycling cycle

Feet clipped into metal pedals
piston lycra legs pumping as
gloved mitts grip and wheels
push through leaves and mud to
spray my back with polka dots.

A walker ahead I ring my bell
wheels on grass, almost off on
my ass as the numpty shouts
“Bloody Hell!” Sleepy hipster
ears wrapped in BeatsByDre.

Together in Solace

I was trawling though some old notebooks when I found this piece from decades ago. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what it is about. But the imagery is rather nice. (Probably fuelled by some Afghan black)

Bricked tombs spill with bracken
as sworded songs delight
the tellers of old tales
Spindle spun, fine silken hairs
Toasted in sun and wallowed
in yellow ochre
Teased through tongues tightly torrid,
this is where he was lost

(I remember the tall man
His lined face holds secrets
never known, an unsaid nonentity)

Memories of Old Men

When
my grandfather died.
I cried.
Tears ran.
My shoulders
heaved
heavy sobs.

I was four.

When
my other grandfather died.
I tried but
no tears came.
My shoulders
awkward
encased, suited.

I was fourteen.

If
I close my middle aged eyes.
If
I search my memory.
I can see them.
Just.
Smell them.
A musty scent.
Old men with tobacco stained smiles
in hand knits, wellies and flat caps.

As a young boy
and as a young man
I vied for their attention,
demanded their affection

a cuddle
a walk hand in hand

a shooting lesson
an illicit poteen swig

big strong memories
sadly missed.

Autumn reflection (Dog Paddling in Sheep Soup)

There’s a lot of prosy autumnal stuff floating around t’interweb. Snippets of ochre gush about leaves and colour and such. And I’m as guilty as any doodling amateur scribe. Latching onto the mood of the moment. The richness of the season.

THERE I GO AGAIN!

Any hoo. Today is Thursday. It’s mid September (careful) and tomorrow is Friday.

As I get older, my memories of childhood become more vivid. The veil of time is lifting and sweet childlike moments of innocence and wonder pop into my mind.

TARAAH! CYMBALS! FIREWORKS!

It’s pretty cool. All the faces I knew when I was growing up are suddenly quite alive. Standing beside me. Tutting or cooing. Chasing me. Nipping. Kissing.

Pearls of wisdom and nuggets of madness from faces I’d forgotten. Most of them dead. Rat fodder.

As a child, my siblings and cousins and I had the run of an enchanted glen. We lived our summers at my maternal grandmother’s farm. Perched on the side of Slieve Gallion, in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains. It was called Carndaisy Glen.

The Glen was our playground. A beautiful secret. Our Narnia. Streams and waterfalls and deep pools to swim in during the long never ending days of summer. Once we found a dead sheep half submerged upstream above the largest waterfall that filled our favourite pool. We imagined we were dog paddling in sheep soup.

The water was freezing.

I knew every trail. Where it led. Where it came from. And every rock and tree root. Every muddy bank. Every nook and cranny. Everywhere treasure was hidden. Marked on our club map.

Our.club.map.

Before setting off, we would gather round my granny in the old scullery and top up with banana sandwiches and glass bottles of milk and tip toe through the cobbled farmyard, shooing geese and ducks and avoiding the piles of cow shit. We were the famous eleven. Or so. Numbers varied.

Then skipping down the gravel drive, away from the farmhouse to disappear into birch and beech and sycamore, carving through fern fronds and brambles like mini Doctor Livingstones. Eager and afraid. Excited and giddy. Intrepid explorers. Pioneers.

We owned this place!

Fridays now mean feet up, telly on and Friday Phrases with a glass of wine and a bowl of nuts. Fridays then, meant out of school and restless sleeps and a promise of a Saturday morning bus ride to the Glen. And adventure.

My favourite time of year was autumn. The Glen was deciduous woodland and from late August to October, the wind whistled and tugged reluctant brown and yellow and red and gold leaves to fall and carpet the woodland floor. When it rained, the banks became a sloppy, slippy mess of spent chlorophyll.

We slid from top to bottom on bits of old car bonnets. (My uncles used to drive them over the edge to rumble to the Glen floor when they broke down. Carefree with the farm insurance.)

We sat in those old cars Vroom! Vroom! and drove for miles and miles in our tireless imaginations. Each taking turn to steer and toot.

We were a band of cousins.

When it rained, the autumn rain came suddenly. Out of nowhere. Soft warm moist air drawn up the side of the mountain slipped on tree canopies and dripped to soak us through as we played beneath.

I’ve been back to the Glen many times. In spring to photograph the daffodils in February and the bluebells in April. Carpets of yellow and blue drifting into the distance.

Running like shoals of sardines in a sea of trees.

But most of all I like to photograph the autumn carnival. Nature’s carnival. A riot of shimmering colour as mother nature strips and beds down to sleep through winter.

And yes. There is a lot of prosy autumnal stuff floating around t’interweb. That is good.

Autumn is a special time. It brings back my special memories.

Perhaps this introspection is because I’m in the Autumn of my own life.

But. All life ends sometime. Only then can we look forward to Spring and renewal. The cycle of life. Or not. I’m unsure. My spiritual jury is out on this one.

I’ll surely write about the Glen again as my memories magically reappear before they finally disappear into the fog of old age. Memories of happy times. A carefree childlike world.

And the spiritual arrival of autumn.

Soda farls and spit and sizzle

My mother wrestled flour, buttermilk and yeast
Preparing our daily soda bread feast
Kneading dough on a small formica table
Rounding the sodas before slashing each middle
Then testing the griddle until flour dust browned
Before setting each soda flat side down

The griddle took up most of the range
Burnt and black, round and heavy gauge
Made from smelted chunks of iron ore
Gouged from Mother Earth’s molten core
A staple of every honest Irish kitchen
A blackened symbol of farmhouse tradition

When my mother was busy and her back turned
I’d creep to the range, careful not to get burned
And dribble spit onto the hot plates in a drizzle
To watch it fry and dance and spit and sizzle
Crazy bouncing saliva hot, fizzing and alive
Dancing like cowboys to the slugs of a colt 45

“What do you think you’re doing young man!”
My mother would shout, her strong rough hand
Would clout my ears until stinging and warm
Then drag me kicking as I wailed in alarm
Dumping me in the hall to sit on the stairs
As she finished the sodas, leaving me to my tears

Then in a sweet lilting tone she called me back in
Perched me at the table, tucked a bib under my chin
Fresh warm soda dripping in butter was proffered
A peace offering to a boy from his long suffering mother
I bit into the sweet yeasty dough and dribbled
Butter and crumbs onto the flowery formica table

That was a different age, a selfish innocent time
A soft and gentle world when my mum was all mine
And we shared soda moments as we sat at the table
In a tiny room, in a tiny house, happy and comfortable
And watched the cold outside blowing wind and drizzle
As my spit hit the range top to dance, spit and sizzle.

#fieryverse Liz or Sue (and the love guru)

In a fallow field near Furness
(under the cover of darkness)
we fumbled with zippers (then
she dropped her nail clippers
and I lost the keys to the van)
It wasn’t working out as planned.

It was 1982, April, chilly and dark.
In the distance a dog fox barked.
This was a dilemma. A mess. I
was distracted by a random fly
as Liz or Sue (I’ve forgotten her
name) lost her clippers again.

Meanwhile she caught her foot
in the steering wheel as we fought
for position. It was cramped in
the van as hot passions steamed
windows as her bottom warm
repeatedly sounded the horn.

As our ardour subdued (totally
a euphemism) a peeping scally
tapped the window. Liz or Sue
ran from the van and I pursued
in the dark my clothes akimbo
chasing my fleeing Liz or Sue bimbo.

Today I’m an ex wannabe love guru
without a white van, a Liz or a Sue
but with a witty, wise, delicious woman
who doesn’t want or need to understand
but who loves me for who I really am.
A witty, insufferable beardy man!